The Supreme Novices Hurdle is a race that Nicky Henderson has won with the mighty Altior and while Shishkin is not in the same class as him at this stage, he has the scope to be a better chaser than hurdler. The doubt is that the occasion may rattle Shishkin because he is so inexperienced.
I have backed Abacadabras each-way and feel he is the safe bet in this. Chantry House is another who is much better than we have seen. He was highly-rated as a bumper horse and I would not be surprised if this fella was in the shake up.
I hope Shishskin wins but I think Abacadabras is the each way bet.
- Frank Hickey’s best bets for day three at Cheltenham
- Who to back in the Paddy Power’s Stayers’ Hurdle WITHOUT Paisley Park
- Ruby Walsh’s best bets for day three at Cheltenham
- Paddy Power’s day three best bets at Cheltenham
Notebook is your likely favourite and he has impressed with his jumping and attitude in Ireland this year, but he was well beaten in the Ballymore Hurdle last year at the Festival, so I will look elsewhere.
Rouge Vif is one that I really like at the prices and is is a knock-out each way bet after his win at Warwick in a Grade 2 contest. That was impressive and the drier the ground, the better his chance.
A very competitive affair with 23 runners and the Irish challenger Discorama can go close for Paul Nolan and Bryan Cooper. This horse has the 2F‘s – Festival form – and I love that as it is all important at Cheltenham. He was placed in a handicap hurdle in 2019 and in last year’s National Hunt Chase.
David Bridgwater’s The Conditional is another who should run well here. He was a winner at the track earlier in the season is still attractively handicapped.
There are 17 runners declared in the feature race on the opening day and Nicky Henderson has four entered. Epatante is likely to start favourite and if you could guarantee she will run to the level that she ran to in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton – you would definitely back her.
The doubt remains that she was unplaced in the mares’ novice hurdle at last year’s Festival when a short-priced favourite.
Pentland Hills has had a wind operation since his defeat at Haydock Park. If that helps – then he has to be a player. Nico de Boinville will have to time his run to perfection and try to get him to hit the front near the line.
There’s a lot of ‘ifs’ though with both of those stablemates, so the safest option is Jessica Harrington’s Supasundae each-way. He has Grade One form, stays well and must have a chance at double-digit odds in a wide-open contest.
A match between the market principles – Benie Des Dieux and Honeysuckle. Lady Buttons could be one for the places and while Honeysuckle will have her chance to win a prize like this again – this year’s renewal will go to Benie Des Dieux.
Imperial Aura has been laid out for this race and having run really well at the track last time, should be tailor-made for a repeat bid. Champagne Court has a very good each-way chance on form and was fourth in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle last season at the Festival.
I have not been impressed with the favourite Carefully Selected’s jumping in his wins at Punchestown and Naas and he will have to do better if he is to win.
He is well ahead of the field on ability and Festival form, but it’s the 23 fences that concern me. I’ll take a chance on Forza Milan each-way for Irish trainer James Nash. He’s made a very good jockey booking with Derek O’Connor on board and he’l do for me at the prices.
- Ruby Walsh’s Cheltenham Festival Cheat Sheet
- Frank Hickey’s 3 horses he fancies who are well handicapped
- Frank Hickey is taking on these 4 favourites at the Festival